An early entry from the science fiction stable of prolific producer Irwin Allen, Lost In Space was originally intended as a dramatic futuristic reworking of the classic Swiss Family Robinson. The series quickly descended into a sometimes unintentionally hilarious, high camp example of the notorious "monster of the week" pulp, which was a hark-back to the monochromatic days of the Saturday morning movie serial cliff-hangers.
The basic plot was simple; the experimental colony spacecraft transporting the Robinson family to a new world is sabotaged by an infiltrating enemy agent, causing them to crash-land on a remote planet deep in uncharted space. The core group of characters consisted of the five members of the Robinson family itself, Professor John Robinson, (Guy Williams) his wife Maureen, (June Lockhart) and their children Judy (Marta Kristen), Penny (Angela Cartwright), and son Will (Bill Mumy). The remainder of the Jupiter 2's small crew compliment was rounded out by handsome young male co-pilot (Mark Goddard) and the whining, scheming, cowardly saboteur, Dr Zachary Smith (played to comic, yet still sometimes sinister effect by Jonathan Harris), and the sophisticated B9 robot (Bob May), named rather unimaginatively as simply "Robot".
Although supposedly remote, the Robinson's planet prison soon proved to be something of an unlikely stopping-off point for almost every space-faring alien and monster in the galaxy. As the series progressed and grew ever further detached from the hard edged, suspenseful, original premise, it was the mismatched trio of Will, Smith and the Robot who came to be the show's central focus. With the successfully crowd pleasing comedy double act of the increasingly arch Harris's Smith and the Robot ultimately providing the increasingly juvenile series only real point of enjoyment. Fondly remembered today, mostly for all the wrong reasons, Lost In Space was arguably the most successfully enjoyable of all Irwin Allen's forays into the field of television science fiction.
Published on December 31st, 2018. Written by SRH for Television Heaven.